Choose Concise and Impactful CVs
Recruiting is no easy task. Your inbox is probably flooded with potential candidates who are vying for an open position in your company, and it can get quite overwhelming to receive and review so many CVs. As a recruiter, your job is to sift through potential candidates, analyse their backgrounds and skills, and determine if they will be an asset to the company.
When you hire someone, you are essentially placing your trust in them to represent your company well regardless of their level of seniority. For the first step of the hiring process, you only have a piece of paper to determine if this candidate is worth your time. How should you choose the right person?
Because recruiting is among many other responsibilities, time is of the essence. Reading through every CV that lands in my inbox is simply out of the question. So, I tend to gravitate towards CVs that are short, ideally those that land within one page.
The main purpose of a CV is for the candidate to share their work experience and the impact that their work had on the company. CVs that are concise tend to focus on the most important aspects of the candidate’s background, which will give you an idea of what the candidate has to offer.
Some CVs appear to show an extensive background and multiple positions, but the candidate may not have presented the impact of their work. To me, this implies that they want to be told what to do. They want to follow a program instead of taking initiative to make things happen.
Recruiters always want to hire someone who will bring life to a position and take initiative. Nobody wants a robot who waits for commands. So, keep an eye out for candidates who present projects that made an impact on their company. These people are leaders in the making.
Obviously, no one would explicitly express that they took initiative on a project. So, how can you recognize if someone went outside of their comfort zone and stepped up to do something out of their volition?
I recently received a very impactful CV. In three main points, this candidate clearly stated what she did in her previous position. These three statements contained strong verbs that detailed her roles and tasks. Within the next two lines, the candidate defined her role, projects, and impact of her work.
I was excited about this candidate because this CV portrayed someone who does not add fluff or jargon to make her sound unnecessarily skillful. Instead, she presented herself clearly and chose verbs that illustrate her work and impact on the company. She also presented hard data to show how her work evidently affected the company for the better.
CVs that use a lot of clichéd phrases and words are essentially a waste of time. Everyone can use words like “passionate” or “enthusiastic”, but it does not clearly show the skills you possess and the impact you have made in your previous roles. Always look for CVs that highlight relevant contributions and back these up with numbers.
Lengthy CVs tend to include unnecessary jargon that may only end up confusing you. Steer clear from any CV that appears to be a copy-and-paste project from another generic CV. Instead, choose CVs that paint a clear picture of who the candidate is, what the person has done, and what they could potentially offer to your company.
As for work background, it may seem logical to hire someone who has worked in a very established company because the candidate would have been formally trained in many areas for their field of work. However, I usually prefer to hire someone who comes from a start-up company or someone who has worked on new initiatives/projects because this requires the candidate to problem-solve in a realistic setting where formal systems may not already be present.
Dig a Little Deeper
In addition to CVs, LinkedIn is a great resource that can reveal a lot about a candidate’s work experience and business connections. For CVs that provide a LinkedIn link, it may be worth checking out the candidate’s LinkedIn profile and connections to get a broader perspective of the candidate’s background.
However, while on LinkedIn, ignore the recommendations that appear on the candidate’s profile page. On LinkedIn, some people may be “forced” into writing a recommendation for a colleague or a friend, so it may not be very sincere. I usually ignore LinkedIn recommendations and rely more on formal recommendation letters and reference check calls.
It is also worth noting candidates who care to establish context. For example, a candidate may say, “I saw your CNBC interview and connected to what you said about this or that. I am reaching out to you because…” Candidates who reach out with intent usually want to make an impact, but they may not necessarily know where they fit in our company.
Such a candidate stands out to me because they would have done their research about our company, our values, and mission and decided that they want to make an impact through our company. I am more than happy to review their skills and work experience to determine where their passion for impact can truly make a difference in our company.
Focus on Well-Crafted CVs and Skillful Candidates
When candidates are applying for multiple jobs in a short period of time, it may be easy for them to overlook silly mistakes in their CVs and applications. Although I can sympathise with this a little, silly mistakes indicate that the candidate is careless and does not really care to take an extra minute or two to check the CV and application for typos and silly errors.
Silly mistakes do not only reflect poor typing accuracy; they point towards a candidate who is not meticulous in her work and does not care enough about the job to make the extra effort of proof-reading. Hiring a candidate like this could end up being a waste of time and resources.
On the other hand, there are candidates who are willing to go above and beyond to present themselves in such a manner that will blow you away. I once received an application that included a well-produced video, which presented the candidate’s work, background, and experience. This extra effort showed me that he really cared about presenting himself in a manner that would stand out among other applicants.
While you may experience both extremes of candidates who definitely should not be shortlisted and those who should, there are also candidates who may not give you enough to make a decision one way or the other. Perhaps this candidate has some skills but does not come from the expected industry.
In the past, when I was on the fence about a candidate, I consulted my colleagues for their opinions. For one of these candidates, I was concerned that he might not fit the role and scale up because he did not come from the same industry.
However, after discussing it with my colleagues, I decided to give him a chance. It turned out that he was a quick learner and was actually able to provide a different perspective for the role because he came from a different industry and applied first principles to problem solving.
Although this aspect of decision-making may not always apply to all cases, it may be worth considering what a candidate could bring to the table even though they come from a different industry. For example, someone who worked in telemarketing but applies for a social media marketing role can bring a whole new perspective and also grow from a different challenge.
Plan Ahead for a Fruitful Interview
After you have shortlisted candidates, ensure that you have a sound understanding of the open position in order to hire efficiently. Early in my career, there was an occasion when I was asked to interview a candidate for a social media marketing role, but I did not have time to do some research in advance. Social media was not my forte then, so I had limited knowledge about what was expected from someone in social media marketing and how would I measure success for such a role.
Thankfully, I contacted a friend who gave me a quick overview of what a social media marketing role entails before I interviewed the candidate. In hindsight, I should have been more aggressive to find out more about this role, so that I would have been better equipped to evaluate the candidate for the position.
To further prepare for your interview, contact common connections and ask for feedback about the candidates. Ask if there is anything in particular that you should know about the candidate before the interview. This can help you tailor your questions for the candidate to get the most out of the upcoming interview.
While you could prepare some questions for the candidate based on their skillset and work experience, it would be most natural for the interview to go with the flow. As your conversation unfolds, you will likely think of questions that are relevant to the role and the candidate.
During the interview, you must be able to clearly articulate the position you are hiring for, the steps of the hiring process, and the change the candidate is expected to bring to the team. It is only fair to give the candidate a complete picture of your expectations from the get-go.
It is natural for the candidate to have expectations about your company and the position you are hiring for. They may expect a certain bonus rate, salary, and progression for their career, but it may very well differ from what your company has to offer.
In order to prevent future misunderstandings and miscommunications, it is important for you to plan how you will present your company and the open position to your candidate. Based on your company’s vision and goals, explain the impact that you want your candidate to have on your company and the deliverable growth you wish to see over the next few years.
The only way to make an informed decision about the candidate is to get a clear picture about what the candidate wants to achieve in this role and what long-term career goals they have. In many ways, an interview is similar to dating. Everyone only mentions the good aspects of themselves to convince the other party that it is a good fit.
However, you would only be hearing one side of the story if you only learn about the candidates strengths. I always make it a point to ask my candidates about their struggles in recent years, what they have learned, and how they have grown.
If the candidate does not have any low points to share, then you have a problem. The candidate is lying and is covering up their weaknesses. It is highly unlikely and basically impossible for someone to only enjoy his entire career and not face any challenges.
Learning about how the candidate overcame recent challenges can shed light on how they would respond and react when they face conflict in the future. It portrays their conflict-resolution and interpersonal skills, both of which are important in the workplace.
Making the Final Decision
For evaluating the candidate, I generally score people over five areas: market knowledge, product knowledge, business relationships, decision-making ability, overall body language. In addition to these, I consider how well the candidate fulfills the requirements for the job.
With this in mind, there may be some candidates who turn out to be more suitable for another open position. I recently interviewed someone who was interviewing for a role, but his expertise in business seemed more suitable for another role.
I consulted my colleagues and asked them to speak to the candidate and evaluate his skills and work experience in light of the other role, and they agreed that this candidate was more suited for another role in our company. Because the candidate was flexible, he was willing to take up the other position. Today that candidate is doing impactful work in his role and we are glad to have him working with us.
While there are rare occasions when you may hire a candidate on the spot, the best course of action is to interview at least four or five people before making a final decision. As you do, evaluate each candidate beyond their roles and skill set, and consider their hunger for success, desire for financial independence, and other driving forces of motivation. These can play a huge role in their determination and work ethic.
If you are undecided about how to proceed with a candidate, consider the immediate impact that the candidate would bring to your company within this role. Ask yourself how much you are willing to invest in the candidate to get them up to speed. Some roles do not require a lot of expertise, while others do.
When appropriate, you could ask the candidate to prepare a presentation about your company. This presentation should discuss the position they are interviewing for and their expected impact if hired. The main purpose of the presentation is to show you what perspective the candidate can bring to the company and how they can help the company grow and succeed. Even if the candidate is not hired, this can be valuable feedback for you to consider.
Steps to Take in 24 Hours
- Choose candidates who made a quantifiable impact on their company.
While it is easy to use jargon and cliches to fluff up a CV, it takes extra effort to clearly describe the impact that someone has made to a company. Pay attention to candidates who are able to articulate how their work brought about positive change in their previous company. If hired, they are likely to continue this work ethic in your company.
- Try out candidates who possess the right skillset, even if they are from a different industry.
It may seem like a textbook answer to choose candidates from the same industry. But sometimes, it may be worth choosing someone from a different industry who may possess necessary skill and a fresh perspective. Interview these candidates with an open mind and picture how this candidate may add color and life to your company.
- Do your research before the interview.
Take time to know exactly what you are looking for in a candidate. Make sure that you are able to articulate the role and expected impact of this position so that the candidate gets a clear picture of what she may be signing up for. If you have mutual connections, reach out to your peers and ask for feedback about the candidate in order to effectively evaluate the candidate.